A new study carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses has revealed the big worries among owners and managers of small businesses in the capital, with the cost of both commercial and residential property high on the list.
Of the FSB’s 7,000 London members, more than half (56 per cent) said the rising cost of commercial space was a concern, with the soaring residential property market also causing trouble for London’s smaller businesses.
Some 22 per cent said it has had a negative impact on their ability to retain staff, with a further ten per cent saying the need to increase workers’ pay in order to meet rising rents is hindering their ability to take on new members of staff.
As a result of these concerns, the FSB has published a manifesto outlining the areas small firms would like Boris Johnson’s successor to focus on.
It urged the incoming mayor to lower the cost of doing business in the capital, boost investment in faster broadband and other infrastructure, to help secure London’s status as a significant driver of the UK economy.
Sue Terpilowski, London policy chairman at the FSB, said: “The spiralling cost of housing and business premises is a significant barrier to growth, and we are starting to see a ‘flight from the centre’ on the part of established independent small businesses – exactly the type of business that makes London such a special and vibrant place.”
The FSB has pushed the candidates “to say ‘ibacksmallbusiness’ and understand that they are the very fabric of our communities”. Mayoral candidates welcomed the FSB’s manifesto with Labour’s Sadiq Khan, the Green party’s Sian Berry, Conservative Zac Goldsmith and Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon all reiterating their support for the capital’s small businesses.
Pidgeon said what was particularly clear from the manifesto was “the huge concern that most small businesses in London have about the cost of housing”.
She added that “the need to tackle the shortage of affordable housing in London is vital for both social and economic reasons”.
Khan and Berry meanwhile, both said they would make resolving the housing and workplace crisis their “top priority as mayor”, with Khan adding he knew “first-hand the challenges that small businesses face” having helped run a business.
Goldsmith pointed out that while smaller firms are “agile and entrepreneurial” they are also exposed to the “escalating cost of doing business in London”.
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